About the Map
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the map?
The map is intended to help people brainstorm, focus, communicate, build consensus around and execute their education improvement efforts.
Who should use the map?
The map is designed to be used by anyone who believes it can help them be more successful – parents, teachers, students, superintendents, school boards,
teacher unions, community groups, foundations and any other organization working to improve educational performance.
What is the philosophy behind the map?
The basic philosophy behind the map is very simple and is indicated by the orange boxes on the map itself. The first idea is that the results achieved by
students are driven by both the performance of the student and the performance of the school – hence the inclusion of first two big orange boxes. This
means that improving results requires simultaneously improving the effectiveness of both our schools and of the students who attend those schools. As the
boxes underneath these two big orange boxes indicate, this means providing students and schools with the skills, motivation and resources they need to
perform well (that’s the job of the rest of us).
The second idea is that, in evaluating student results, you have to take costs into account – hence the inclusion of the third big orange box, Educational
Costs. While it is tempting to focus solely on the results schools achieve, fairness and financial practicality require that the costs of producing those results
are part of the discussion.
Is this the only way the map could have been done? Is it perfect? Is it complete?
The map is neither perfect nor complete, and it could have been done in multiple ways. Indeed, each parent, teacher, student, school board member,
researcher, administrator, academic, and other interested person could draw their own version of this map. The difficult part is coming up with a map that
works from multiple perspectives (allowing people from different groups to work together) and is still simple and small enough to be usable (the perfect
version of this map is probably 20 feet wide by 15 feet high!).
This map provides a comparatively simple approach to breaking down the factors that drive educational performance. It blends this structure with a body of
ideas that balances the need to take multiple perspectives into account (parents, students, teachers, administrators, etc.) with the need to provide basic,
practical, straight-talking ideas that everyone can understand and employ. It has been designed with the help of multiple stakeholders, but most extensively
with parents, teachers, researchers and administrators.
It is important to keep in mind that no map will provide a silver bullet. Maps simply provide a discussion starter and common language that can help people
work together. The real value comes from the ideas that maps help people generate – ideas about what’s most important and the most practical ways to get
Where are parents, school boards, districts, administrators and community groups on the map?
As explained earlier (in the question regarding the philosophy behind the map’s structure), the map takes the viewpoint that it is ultimately the effectiveness
of students and schools that drives student performance. Because of this, students and teachers are the only people explicitly included in the structure of the
map. This is not intended to diminish the role that parents, school boards, districts, administrators and community groups play in driving success. Rather, it
is intended to highlight the idea that the efforts of these groups matter specifically because they ultimately help both students and schools be more effective.
It is very important to keep in mind that, just because these groups are not specifically mentioned in the structure of the map, that doesn't mean they don't
have vital roles to play. In fact, the action level of the map (the unboxed detailed items at the bottom) is a listing of many of the things all or any of these
groups can do to help the effectiveness of students and schools. Notice that at this level of the map there is no assignment of responsibility – that is, none of
the actions are assigned to a particular group or groups. That's because, for the vast majority of these actions, several groups have responsibility and can
play a role.
In the end, the challenge for parents, school boards, districts, administrators and community groups is to define how they intend to improve the effectiveness
of students and schools. The bottom level of the map provides a good starting point for these discussions by highlighting possible actions each group might
take and how those actions will ultimately improve the performance of students and schools. In a perfect world, the groups will work collaboratively to
combine efforts in some areas and work individually on others to make the most needed improvements.
How do people use the map?
(NOTE: For more in-depth information about map uses, please click the "Using the Map" button to the left)
Superintendents use the map primarily as a planning and communication framework. Using the map as a discussion guide, they work with staffs and school
boards to build a consensus around their districts’ most pressing needs. The map serves as a checklist that helps them consider the broad range of potential
priorities, providing a shared language and touchstone that helps conversations progress more clearly and efficiently. There has been a desire on the part of
some superintendents to overlay performance metrics (both quantitative and qualitative) onto this map at all levels – effectively to use the map as a
performance management or scorecarding framework (not surprisingly, some parents have brought this up as well).
Principals use the map in ways very similar to superintendents. The main difference is that principals are likely to use the maps in the development of school
plans rather than district plans, and that the discussions would involve school-level staff rather than school boards and district level staff. The other
difference may be the degree to which principals consider the cost section of the map. Principals with substantial cost authority and accountability would
likely tend to consider this section heavily; those with little say in this area probably would not.
Parents can vary in their reaction to the map. Parents can be intimidated by the amount of information or may not believe the map addresses a problem
they are trying to solve. On the other hand, some parents immediately set out to read the entire map, top to bottom. Believing it provides insights into what
highly-effective parents know, they often request copies for friends and family. Some start circling the things they and their schools are currently focusing on
to improve their kids’ performance. Overall, it is important to remember that the map may not fit a need (or at least fit a need well) for all people.
Teacher unions have begun to use the map to facilitate conversations among their memberships regarding what types of improvements would have the most
impact on student achievement. Using the map as a survey instrument and as a discussion framework is helping the unions achieve a consensus of opinion
that in turn drives the union’s platforms and initiatives.
One union, having recently completed a survey of nearly 700 teachers, used the map as a way to not only record the individual opinions of the teachers, but
also to depict and communicate a collective view of which improvements were most important. As one union leader explained, “The map provided a way for
us to record and analyze the results of open-ended surveys with narrative responses. The challenge with this type of survey lies not only in reviewing a large
number of free-form responses, but also in identifying and communicating consistency and inconsistency of opinion. The map was invaluable as a framework
for normalizing, analyzing and communicating survey results.”
The union also used the map to facilitate workshops focused on setting union strategies and priorities. For one workshop, the first exercise on the first day
was having participants (teacher representatives from fifteen separate schools) review the map and circle the three most pressing improvement areas (small
blue-green boxes) from their own perspective – based on the specific needs of the students at their schools. As the workshop leader explains, “Having the
participants review the map and circle their top three priorities was a great way to start a workshop for several reasons. First, it encouraged people to
acknowledge and consider the full spectrum of what drives student achievement. This did a lot to spark people’s thinking about which improvements would
be most powerful within their own schools. Second, making participants choose only three improvement areas forced them to utilize everything they knew
about their students’ needs in choosing their own priorities. In many workshops, the tendency is to spend a lot of time and energy brainstorming things we
might choose to do and a minority of time prioritizing among them. This workshop was better because it got us to the question of priority much more
quickly. Third, reviewing people’s individual selections as a team provided early insight into the perspectives and rationale of the participants. This helped
everyone understand and acknowledge where and why there might be differences in opinion throughout the remainder of the workshop. Finally, the map
served as a backdrop and common language for the remainder of the workshop. During many of the discussions and exercises, people referred to parts of
the map for generating ideas and clarifying perspectives.”
Has this concept been tested in the private sector?
Yes. The concept of breaking down the drivers of business performance in a similar manner was pioneered in the business sector. Deloitte Consulting
developed a highly-successful business map called the Enterprise Value Map™ in 2001. That map has been used by hundreds of companies around the world
to help them focus and launch their performance improvement efforts.
One of the people who led the development of the Deloitte map and who helps companies utilize it has advised the development of the Education
Performance Map. For more information about Deloitte's Enterprise Value Map, please click here.
Why would something that works in the business world work in education?
The worlds of education and business are different in important ways that cannot be overlooked. Accordingly, if you compare the structure and content of the
business and education versions of the map, you will notice that there are extensive differences between the two. That said, some of the basic usage and
design principles that have made the business map very successful should apply equally well within schools or any other organization. The central theme is
the importance of getting groups of diverse, motivated, smart, highly-skilled, well-intentioned people working toward a shared goal, and that’s ultimately
where maps are proving helpful.
Principle 1: Clarify what defines and drives success
The people working to improve the performance of a system or organization need to have a shared understanding of what defines and drives success. It
doesn’t make sense to set out on an expedition without establishing a shared understanding of where you are, where you’re headed, and the nature of the
terrain in between. The education map, like the business map, can help teams get clarity around what defines ultimate success, as well as what intermediate
activities and accomplishments support ultimate goals. This shared understanding provides the foundation for establishing shared goals and resulting
Principle 2: Focus and align your efforts
To get a lot of smart, highly-skilled, well-intentioned people working toward shared goals and priorities, you must build a mutual understanding of what those
goals and priorities are. Having the strongest rowers in the world in your boat won’t get you anywhere worthwhile if they aren’t rowing or are all rowing in
different directions. The education map, like the business map, can help teams utilize their people in establishing clear goals and priorities, then help them
communicate and get people working toward the same end.
Principle 3: Establish your language and culture
If you want to make the best use of diverse perspectives and knowledge, it helps to establish a shared language. In the business world, it is exceptionally
hard to formulate good solutions when Finance speaks “quant,” HR speaks “people,” and IT speaks “tech.” The business map provides a constant, shared
language that helps these groups work together much more effectively. The education map may hold the same promise for making good use of the diverse
backgrounds of school board members, superintendents, unions, principles, teachers, parents and other education stakeholders.
Who has been involved in the development and rollout of the map?
Parents, teachers, administrators, foundations, community members and researchers have provided expertise and guidance in the development and rollout of
the map. The following people have all graciously donated their time, guidance, expertise and resources to the effort:
- Ken Benny (Mill Valley School District)
- Jeff Camp (Full Circle Fund)
- Bruce Dickinson (Denver Classroom Teachers Assn.)
- Greg Dickinson (Deloitte)
- Darius Meykadah (Copymat San Francisco)
- Malva Rabinowitz (Deloitte)
- Richard Rorem (Deloitte)
- Steve Seleznow (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)
- David Silver (Think College Now Elementary)
- Adam Urbanski (Rochester Teachers Assn)
- Caldwell Williams (GoalTenders)
- Steven Kirz
- Avanish and Faye Sahai
- Elizabeth Treccase
- Salvador Varela
- Alma Celina Quiroz Trujillo
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"Getting the Map" for